I didn’t always live out in the country. Even though my dad was a potato farmer, we lived in town. Growing up we had an extra freezer full of beef and always a bucket of potatoes at the back door, but we didn’t have a massive pantry that was always stocked. It was easy to run to the store and pick up more food.

It wasn’t until I met my husband and we lived in a small logging community about an hour from Portland that I started to develop my “prepper” habits (if that’s what you want to call it!). Living in the Columbia Gorge and access highways plagued by reoccurring landslides and snowstorms, we made a conscious decision to always be prepared for blocked access to grocery stores. I got into the habit of monthly trips into town to stock up on groceries and necessities.

With everyone preparing to stay home and seeing stores shelves become empty, I thought it would be a good time to share some of these habits! Once the chaos calms and we go back to our routines, we should have a plan to keep ourselves and our families from being in a situation where we have to go without basic necessities.

When you live in town, you have quick and easy access to the store, so you don’t often have the same mindset as someone who lives in the country. But we should all keep stock of basic necessities for multiple reasons! Not just for emergencies, but also to save time and money.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your home well stocked, stay prepared and save money.

1. Create space to store extra items.

It’s hard to stock up if you don’t have a space to put things! I realize some people live in very small apartments and feel like they don’t have the space to store extra items. Do some de-cluttering, it’s amazing how much room you can open up after going through your things. If you truly feel like you don’t have the space, look for an empty corner to place a full size cabinet or shelves.

2. Take stock of what you currently have.

I usually make one big shopping trip a month. So I always go through my cabinets, fridge & freezer and see what needs replenishing. I try and keep at least an extra month’s worth of non perishable goods. Then I’m not completely out when it’s time for my monthly shopping trip and we are also prepared for things like snow storms or emergencies. Also, take stock of your first aid supplies and medication. We tend to forget to check the things we rarely use.

3. The most basic of the basics: Water

We always keep extra gallons of water in case we lose water. Our well actually froze the morning after Thanksgiving! I was so glad it happened after all of our guest had left, but I was also grateful we had extra water to hold us over until we could get our well going again.

Even if you aren’t on a well, it’s always a good idea to have some extra water stored in your home. Think about the times we’ve had water contamination scares! You don’t want to find yourself in a position where all of the stores shelves are empty and you don’t have access to water. If anything, just keep an extra gallon. But to be prepared, have a gallon per each person in your home.

3. Stock up when items are on sale.

We are Costco members and I always watch for items that we use to go on sale. When they do, I only buy them then and usually buy to the limit! And I’m not talking $.50 off, it’s when things are $3 or more off. Things like dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, canned goods, etc. So I may have 5 jugs of detergent stacked up in the laundry room, but I also saved a chunk of change buying them while they were on sale. Plus, I’m not running to the store, spending more gas money, making impulse purchases all because I’ve run out.

4. Think about things you MAY need.

We do a lot of projects that require trips to the hardware store. When you live over 45 miles from the nearest one, you think of everything you may need before going! This is usually tools for a project, or even something as simple as extra screws. Anything we don’t use, I return on my next trip the following month.

5. Always keep emergency food.

Things that are non perishable and will provide you with nutrients. Beans are a great example. If you want to go to extremes, you can buy things like buckets of Mountain House dehydrated meals.

This winter, my husband and I listened to the book “One Second After”. Ok, I’ve had mild, very mild “prepper” tendencies until listening to this book! This really made us think, what if there were a major catastrophe? What would we do and would our family survive?

I suggest each of us take the time to think about that. It’s a lot easier not to panic or worry when we are well stocked, have a plan and feel prepared.

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